Category Archives: Restaurants

Wow, That Took Off Quickly

Little Bear LostOn Friday 13th December, Lauren Bishop Vranch found a little lost bear, obviously much loved, on an East Coast Train at King’s Cross, and tweeted a photo of it: “Found this well loved little dude on an East Coast train at Kings Cross – let’s find the owner, Twitter!”

By Sunday evening, that original tweet had been RT’d 6192 times. Lauren went on posting pics of the toy to Twitter, which got reposted on other social media including several Facebook groups, and at last, the father of the child who’d lost the bear contacted her.

‘WOW the power of the internet and kind folk – that’s my daughter Phoebes bear – she has been in tears all weekend and I’ve just shown her the picture and she is over the moon. Thank you all so much! Continue reading

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Filed under About Food, Employment, Restaurants

Corruption at Christmas

If you’re a couple whose annual income is £125,000 a year after tax, even if you have five children (three more than Iain Duncan Smith will allow a low-income family, one more than he has himself), you’re richer than 95% of the UK population.

If you have the kind of money that lets you spend £125,000 on one meal, you’re one of the super-rich. In the class war, you’ve won. Ben Spalding has a victory feast for you:

Costing £125,000 for four people, or £31,250 per person, the menu for what will be the world’s most expensive Christmas dinner menu has been devised by London chef Ben Spalding, who has completed residencies at restaurants including The Fat Duck in Bray, Gordon Ramsay’s Royal Hospital Road and Per Se in New York.

In 2011, analysts at Credit Suisse found that 29,000 people globally – nearly all of them men – own net assets worth more than $100m. As Chrystia Freeland, author of Plutocrats and former editor of the Financial Times, discovered in researching her book about the global super-rich, they are different and they are almost all men, and if they are married

these women are managing the households of their wealthy husbands – often a complex task – and pursuing philanthropic ventures. Not many are doing a job of their own despite being highly-educated themselves. In 2005, according to the book, just over a quarter of taxpayers in the top 0.1pc had a working spouse. Continue reading

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Filed under About Food, J. K. Rowling, Poverty, Restaurants, Starbucks, Tax Avoidance, Women

Restaurant review: Guchhi tapas

We were going to have a round of tapas at Tapa Leith. I got caught up commenting on someone else’s blog post.

Yes, well. Tapa is about twenty minutes walk from where I live: Kreetch and I walked by the river part of the way, admiring the splashy way ducks land and take off. On the Shore we bumped into a party of four lost young men who wanted to know if we knew where “that Tapas bar was”, and we said agreeably that we were going there.
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Tapas eaten by landlord

Just round the corner from Eildon Street, on Inverleith Place, there was a little general grocers. My late great-aunt lived on Eildon Street; she couldn’t walk as far as the big Tescos (and didn’t like it much anyway) or the shops at Goldenacre, and she hated letting other people do her shopping for her. The couple who ran the shop got to like her and she them and they’d order items specially for her if she needed them.

Then suddenly a refrigerator with beer and wine appeared. As the couple were devout Muslims, this surprised my great-aunt. They told her that they didn’t have a choice – the landlord had told them their profits weren’t high enough, they had to start selling alcohol.

The shop was burgled. The beer and wine were all stolen. The shop was insured against theft, of course, but the insurance premiums went up. The couple protested again about having to restock the cabinet, but the landlord insisted. Because the exterior of the building was listed, they couldn’t put a metal shutter up. The shop was burgled again. The landlord instructed them to restock. The insurance premiums were too high. The shop folded.

While it may get into the news when Edinburgh Council, acting as a private landlord, raises the rent on commercial properties and drives out business, they are far from the only landlords that do that. Tapa on Hanover Street has closed down now, and they identify a legal wrangle with their landlord as the problem.

I know of no details in the Tapa Hanover case, but the pattern I have heard about businesses in Edinburgh is that all too often, the landlord of a commercial property will offer it at initially quite a reasonable rate: a new business moves in.

If the business is doing well, profits are up – the landlord may even make explicit instructions about putting the profits up, the landlord renews the lease at a higher rate of rent to claw back back more of the profits. The business owner puts prices up, if they can – tries to win more custom, if they can – but even if they can, the more profits come in, the higher the landlord raises the rent. Eventually the business collapses. The landlord once more has an empty property to rent – beginning at a low rate to draw in the next sucker.

In this system, no one wins except the landlord.

There is solid legal protection for residential tenants against a landlord unreasonably raising the rent. You can even take your landlord to the council to have the value of the property reassessed, which can result in a considerable drop in rent.

But where is the protection for small businesses against predatory landlords?

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